'Citizen First' …..Wah! Dilli.
By Maxwell Pereira
maxpk@vsnl.com

Earlier this month, the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) held its Delhi State Annual Session and Conference, at which the crucial city managers including Police Commissioner KK Paul were invited. Among those who tagged along as special invitees, was yours truly. The theme - Wah! Dilli, was to discuss key factors affecting Delhi's Planning and Development, Law and Order, and showcase Delhi's rich heritage, art and culture. Excerpts from the scenario portrayed by Commissioner Paul from the police point of view being pertinent are reproduced here:

"Dr EF Schumacher's Gandhian concept of 'small is beautiful' in vogue a few decades ago no longer holds good. Today the 'Bright light' concept reigns supreme, particularly in the 3rd World. Against 'small is beautiful' we have 'big as bright' - which is acting as the engine of growth; in the process, creating islands of affluence.

Developing countries have limited resources, hence investment is only in known and well charted areas - i.e. in urban centres, as this would bring maximum returns in the shortest time. Investments in the countryside have a long gestation period. Thus opportunities get created in urban centres, unleashing the process of migration. This is peculiar to developing economies where urban growth rates are disproportionately high. These also lead to growth of urban tensions on account of various competing interests.

Uncontrolled migration into Delhi, besides its growth pattern and heterogeneous character, are all a fall out of policies followed over a period of time - with impact on Traffic, and the Crime, and the Law & Order situation. Consequently have emerged a number of factors which may or may not be under the purview of the police, but which tend to influence the situation significantly.

Coming to specifics, Delhi Police today has emerged as one of the finest forces in the country. Individual aberrations in a force of 60,000 are bound to be there, but our effectiveness which has been proved time and again has been possible only due to dedication to duty and professionalism at all levels - essentially at the constabulary level. Nevertheless, being the force of the national Capital, expectations remain high… and we have to continuously strive for excellence and move towards perfection.

During the last few months, to further improve the situation and make the police people friendly, a number of initiatives have been taken. We are trying to give priority to problems of the citizens - 'Citizen First' being our motto. New communication channels are being established with the general public to develop trust and mutual bonding between the police and the public. The atmosphere of suspicion is sought to be overcome to win the trust of the people.

This calls for transparency in our working, which is an effective way also for controlling corruption. This is being achieved through: a) Accessibility of senior officers through e-mail, fax, telephones, personal audience; b) Entertaining the distressed with courtesy and sensitivity; c) Ensuring proper registration - emphasis being on service provided and not statistics; d) Response to complainants in a time bound frame work; and e) Adopting a problem solving and a proactive approach.

This in turn also calls for people's voluntary participation in policing - like discussing area problems with the local police to devise area specific solutions for prevention of localized crimes. Like auto thefts, crimes by stray visitors like hawkers, servants and so on.

Vulnerability of senior citizens staying alone is well known, some of whom having been victims of crime. Though most such crimes have not gone undetected, it is important to prevent them. Along with the police the community can do a lot. Community Defence Teams are now planned, in which school principals and students contacted have evinced interest.

Women constitute about one half of our population, but suffer disadvantageous due to gender bias. World over, they've been victims of violence and exploitation by male dominated societies. Ours is a tradition bound society where women have been socially, economically, physically, psychologically and sexually exploited from times immemorial. Incidents of Rape hit headlines. Even though in Delhi most rape cases are worked out, it is a shocking fact that in 85% of these, the accused is known to the victim. So the question: Why are women viewed by some in terms other than objects of reverence? Why should a respected newspaper here advertise availability of female masseurs of foreign origin with their phone numbers!?

Efficient management of traffic brings a smile on faces of commuters as they reach office fresh and on a positive note. It takes very little for this smile to get converted into a frown. But it takes a lot of pain, physical strain and exposure to elements for a traffic cop to keep this ugly frown away from the citizen's face in Delhi. Have we ever wondered why so many traffic cops need to be deployed at traffic lights just to enforce obedience? Every person who drives is an important part of society; then why should the level of disobedience be so high?

Citizens also have a responsibility to discharge, as rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. We seek the cooperation of the citizens. And of the Corporate World, and invite our friends from CII to share with us their influence in society, and their resources, for the benefit of Delhi-ites - and endorse our campaigns and other programmes".

900 words: 13.04.2004: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com

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